I recently had a major revelation. That somewhere locked deep in my body, my unconscious mind, was a belief that if I let go of control, I give up my power. This revelation shocked me. It was not something I had consciously thought about or believed. It does makes sense, though, as many of the images of power in our culture are tied up with controlling others or being in “control.”
The first definition of control that pops up when I search Google even includes the word power. It states that, control is “the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.” What I'm postulating is that the idea of control in this way is an illusion, and that control actually does not hold power. It is in fact, the opposite of it.
Certainly we can have impact, we can have influence. Certainly sometimes people will listen to what we say, do what we ask of them. However, we don’t ever truly have control over others’ decisions, how they respond, how they decide to feel, how they are impacted by us, and ultimately what they decide to do. We can persuade people, share our opinion and knowledge, but we do not truly have control over the outcome. The illusion of control makes it so that we grip on and keep forcing. When we manipulate a situation, or control it in some way, in order to get the outcome we desire, we actually give away our power.
The difference can be as simple as demanding with an expectation (control) OR simply sharing our wisdom and opinion (power).
When we truly stand in our power, there is an ability to surrender. Because with power, there is a foundation of knowing that we will be ok no matter what happens. We take the power into our own hands, we don't wait for another to do as we expect of them. Certainly we can still speak our opinion, but we have no gripping or desperation about the outcome. We have no expectation. We only have control over how we react and respond. When we know this, we surrender to the truth of our own power. We take our power back.
Standing “in my power” I feel centered, I feel rooted, connected with the energy of the earth. I feel expansive, connected with the energy of the sky, of the stars. I can feel myself, I am present with my body. I can feel my internal compass. I am present with my internal process, and I honor my emotional state. I can be within a storm, but I stand inside the “eye” of it, watching from a place of readiness, or holding my container steady enough for it to move right through me.
And when I’m here, in this place, there is no desperation to try to control anything external. I am confident. I know I can respond from an authentic and honest place. I move from a place of alignment in being. To be clear, power doesn't mean the facade of "having it all together." It can look messy. It can be emotional. It is authentic and honest. It is true and real. It comes from a place of ownership of your experience.
On the contrary, when I try to control an outside situation or person, I pop outside myself and my center. I move outwards into the storm, towards the periphery, and get swept up in the chaos of drama. I may be inauthentic to myself or more manipulative in order to have a sense of control. This comes from an inner sense of desperation, or feeling of lack. I need something from the outside in order to be happy, in order to feel complete, in order to feel good, in order to feel validated. I move from a place of needing to do or change. I move from a place of thinking I'm only ok if someone does something or if a situation changes. This is how we hand our power over to outside sources.
With power we set a boundary and we are the one's to enforce it, we are the one's to act as needed to take care of ourselves.
With control we set a boundary and want someone else to uphold it, and get upset when someone isn't doing what we asked them to do.
Power is internal. Control is external.
Power is centered. Control is off-center.
Power is authentic. Control is manipulative.
Power has much more strength and force than control.
Power has a foundation. Control is surface.
Power comes from trust and wisdom. Control comes from desperation and scarcity.
Power innately includes surrender and trust. Control innately includes expectation.
Here are some questions to consider:
Am I acting from a place of power or control?
What expectations do I have?
Am I centered? Can I feel my own compass? My own emotional state?
Am I trying to control a situation so I don't have to feel something?
Am I trying to force something?
Have I given my power over to someone else in this situation? Am I only ok if they do something?
What are my personal choices here?
How can I take care of my needs?
Do I feel connected to my body, to the earth, to the sky as I say this or make this decision?
Am I standing in the eye of the storm, or am I being swept up inside it?
Does it feel authentic to me to voice this truth, without expectation of what I will receive in return?
We all have an ability to be centered in our true power, the power that flows through us from the unseen forces of the life. The power that is our birthright. Own it. Feel it. Move from this place. And the beauty is, you will end up being much more effective and influential. You will regain ownership over your own life.
*I recognize that both power and control have vast and various meanings and stories attached to them, and that every person may have a different relationship to or definition of them. This is a simplified version of what feels true for me in this moment, according the definitions I have come to assume in my life. I completely honor the myriad of other experiences that arise in the face of power and control and how we individually define them.*